Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Every role-playing system requires a mechanism for dealing with conflict resolution by force.  Fantasy realms are filled with creatures that believe might makes right and these are often encountered by the Heroes on their journey.  Parleying only goes so far with these brutal creatures such as Goblin, Orks, Ogres and Trolls...when they are encountered the situation is going to be physical and fast.

The combat system that I've decided to implement in Open Gateways is not unlike many others, it comes down to figuring out things such as surprise and initiative order to give some semblance of order to the chaos that is found in melee combat.  The battles are dealt with by using what I call "Realistic Tactical" rules.  This system outlines basic rules in somewhat of a wire-framework, and then lets most things simply be resolved by common sense applied the given fantasy scenario.

The major difference from this and most other mainstream systems is that a round of combat is handled in a multi-pass method in order of initiative.  The first pass, acting in order players and the GM declares what the Hero or opponents are attempting to do.  When stating the actions players should focus on what they can do "immediately" before any opponent reaches them, and whether they are going to be taking their movement in the first or second phase. After the Declarative Phase the Action Phase occurs, where movement is done and actions are resolved by rolling the dice.

The Action Phase is really a three phase approach.  First based on declared actions immediate actions are resolved, these are often ranged attacks that don't require movement and when the weapons were ready or other actions that can be done right-away without moving.  After these immediate actions are resolved, then initial movement is done, this allows gaps to be closed movement occurs roughly simultaneously, so GM may have to rule as to where combatant actually meet, during the initial movement.  Next those that moved get to resolve their actions, such as melee attacks or ranged attacks from their new location.  Finally those that performed immediate actions may end with movement that they declared.

This typically encourages more role playing and less meta gaming, as based on the description of what the player or GM said the creature was going to do, when it comes time to actually doing things might not go exactly as planned, and as mentioned above, realism is meant to be the guide when it comes time to doing.

In extremely tactical systems such as 4E, players would do things such a moving away from an opponent just so they meet the minimum charge distance for their standard action, this type of thing is not meant to occur in OG.  If I say my hero is charging the Ork, and the GM says the Ork is charging my Hero...then we are charging each-other, and we'll meet in the middle.

With this open declarative method, often targets may be killed or things may not go as planned.  This creates another dimension to the chaos of battle where you have to act without knowing how things will ultimately be resolved..."Do I swing at the same guy as my teammate, hoping to take them out, or do I hope they drop them and I risk spreading the damage out, but deal with two attacks on me next round?"

I feel this narrative, multi-phased combat style will keep players more engaged, as rather than getting a turn every 15 or more minutes, they will typically have a minute or two narrative, then it will jump around depending on who's acting during which phase, so even though the round may take overall the same amount of time to resolve, each person will "be-up" multiple times during the round.

On top of this, rather than battles taking more than 5 rounds to get to "clean-up" mode, a battle should be normally be resolved in 3 or less rounds, or after this point it should become clear which side in winning...There will be occasions where this may not be the case, such as intentionally delaying the entry of some of the combatants from the battle.